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Legends of Taltos:Crusaders

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Legal Statement:

This game is being played using the 3.0 edition of D&D, including the Paleyr's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual. All are copyrighted by Wizards of the Coast,Inc.

 

Background material on Taltos comes from Reaper's DHA boxed set, Warlord, and material printed in Casket Works. The adventure is my own creation, and Reaper should be held blameless for any mistakes on my part........

 

 

THE CRUSADERS,Part I.

 

 

Sunrise comes early to the war-swept lands of Taltos. Situated on the eastern shores of the Sea of Stars, bordered by the Elf Kingdom of Tirithilia to the northwest, Dartha to the northeast, the wild Revenlands to the east, the Deadlands to the southeast, and the Jalahandran frontier to the southwest, it is a crossroads of trade, warfare and constant intrigue......

 

The Crusader fortress of Denelspire, recently reclaimed from the Darkspawn, stands near the center of Taltos. Built as a strongpoint for the Chroniclers, the fortress is now a bastion of strenght for the downtrodden of the region. Duke Gerard has indeed expanded the mission of his forces to defending and helping the people of the land. Many now look to the Crusaders and their Ivy Crown allies for protection and justice.

 

As brief morning devotionals end in the fortress, warriors old and young meet in the main hall. Some are Templars, some Knights of the Ivy Crown and some are Batle Nuns. A few are mercenaries, lending their talents where needed. Conversation cease as Halbarad, a veteran Warrior-priest approachs the dias at the front of the hall....

 

"A good morning to you all.....It is a good day for work to be done....Item one, there has been an incursion of Reven woodcutters a morning's journey east. The villagers need help sending these miscreants back to the wastelands, and some training with the bow would be most appropriate....

"Item two....A cemetary halfway between here and Craclaw has been desecrated in a manor most foul.....We suspect the work of ...necromancers!" He shrugs, it's always necromancers these days...."we need a detail to clean up the problem, and reconsecrate the grounds.....

"Item three...a party of Gaelanders defeated a Nefsokar party and recovered a few scrolls and 'arcane' items. Their leader wants to turn them over to us. We need someone to collect these items in Port Gangrel, and study them.....after delivering payment to the mercenaries.......

"Volunteers, step forward........"

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A dark-haired man of average height and build dressed in half plate stands up and draws his sword. "I pledge my sword to eradicating the Reven. Who is with me?"

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A tall hawk nosed man in full-plate armour steps forward. He runs a hand through his crimson hair and proclaims "Long ago I pledged my sword to the eradication of the undead plague. I will fight evil in any guise the foul witch adopts. I am Corwight Witchfinder and I offer you my service."

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His interest piqued, Erik turns to look at the first two volunteers. His eyes fall on the taller of the two.

 

"Corwight Witchfinder huh? I've not heard anythin' about him," he mumbles under his breath.

Craning his neck to see the first volunteer better, "Say, that looks like Roman; can't tell for sure though."

 

"It would be nice to get out of here for a bit," he thinks to himself, "a jaunt to Port Gangrel sounds interesting. I'll wait a bit and see what develops."

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A man who was then sitting nonchalantly with his feet on the tables and chewing a bit of jerky raised the wide brim of his hat and peered out at the small group of volunteers. He looked much like a peasant with his simple clothes (some of them were even patched and stitched here and there). Yet by the way he sat in the middle of heavily armed men and women, seemingly without any worries in the world betrayed his true nature. That man who called himself Kaba smiled a tiny smile which would have went unnoticed to anyone but the most careful of watchers, lowered the brim of his hat and resumed on chewing his jerky, and enjoying it immensely.

 

"Two so far and so quickly, and from the way that enormous fellow over there look, soon there will be three... but we still need more", he thought to himself.

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The tallest of the women in the courtyard pays polite attention to Halbarad, halting a private conversation to do so. As the priest finishes, she turns her face back to her earlier conversation partners. "Pardon me for the interruption," she offers.

 

Both of the men immediately turn back towards her, attracted by her honey-voice. "Tis no disrespect, Sister. We must all show politeness to the Priest. But I was nearly done anyhow. Your bow should be good with that nick polished out, your spear is sharp as I can make it, and I added three arrows to your quiver. I would give you more, what with your healing savin' Bennie's life and safin' me from at least two scars and a lot of pain in the healin. But Tha's all I have to give just now, lessin you're wanting an extra quiver? Wi' your size, lady, I'm sure you could carry it."

 

The compliment is not lost on the fair-skinned healer, for warrior such as those with whom she speaks are more apt to notice her great height and reach than the healthy golden glow of her skin.

 

"I might be able to carry it, but - blessings continue - the goddess has always kept me well enough supplied," she answers, rubbing one hand contentedly over the burnt stubble that was once her hair. "And you have done more than enough for me as it is. The blessings that healed you come from the Empress, not the pray-er. "

 

A moment of silence passes before the Priestess asks the shorter men, "So, will you volunteer for the Good Priest's tasks?"

 

The first man considers, but the second is quicker: "No. I've come close enough to death under this moon. I'll wait for a luckier one."

 

His companion laughs, "Aye, tha's true enow!" After another brief pause for thought, he finishes, "And healing or no, we both could do wi' some rest. Will you, Sister?"

 

"Yes. I believe that I will." Absentmindedly she fingers the iron piercings that decorate an unusual raised scar just below her collar bones. The scar forms three crossed spears with the complicated piercing-jewelry simulating the points of the spears. Both men find themselves staring at the scar and the fingers that stroke it. Together with her hair, her scar completes the only two things about the woman's appearance that are at all rough. Yet her armor is cut low to bare the scar under her Gorget, and rarely does she wear helm or hat.

 

She herself seems lost in a connection to the scar as she continues speaking: "It has been quite some time since I repaired to one place for long, and the fortnight I've guested here is as long as I've spent anywhere. I should move on." And good it is that the two of you don't wish to come, for I could not have volunteered then. Already you act too beholden to me than is proper. This is a good place, but too many of those living here have been taught to revere priest as much as God.

 

"May you fare well, wherever you wander, and may the wind be always at your back," she says by way of conclusion. After the two warriors make their own goodbyes as properly as they are able, the tall woman turns back to the scene at hand. It is clear that Halbarad still waits for volunteers, but she breaks no silence to offer herself. Instead, in a moment of quiet, a brief gust swirls near her, tossing her sun-cloak and stirring some dust. It is enough to turn the eye of the veteran Warrior-Priest toward the anomalous movement. When he looks her way, her height makes her visible, and Halbarad easily notices an otherwise subtle nod. As the two pairs of eyes meet, the Preistess's flash momentarily like sun on spinning gold. In that moment, the organizer of the volunteer force knows he may add one more to its number...

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A plain looking black clothed young man quietly approaches the group.

"Excuse me? Perhaps I might offer my assistance?" he asks hesitantly. "For a price, of course. A paltry sum for such fine warriors as yourselves I'm sure, but hey, a man has to eat you know."

 

With a smooth flick of his wrist, suddenly three coin purses appear in his right hand.

"I'm not quite sure which belongs to whom, but I assure you, I return them to you no lighter than they were before they came into my possession!! Benjamin Drake is my name." he says with a flourish of his cloak. "My friends call me Bootknife Ben." With that he performs a backward handspring into the crowd and promptly disappears;reappearing 10 feet to your left in the same meek and unassuming manner in which he first approached the newly forming party.

 

"How's 10 gold pieces a week sound to you??"

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A cloaked figure stands to the side as Halbarad makes his announcement. As he mentions the arcane items, the figure seems to move slightly forward but remains silent as volunteers are acknowledged. A few moments pass, before the figure walks slowly away from the security of the shadows until catching the notice of Halbarad. The slender figure removes the hood of the cloak to revel a young woman with long, light blonde hair. Her skin is fair however her cheeks are slightly sun kissed being lightly dashed with freckles. She gives a final nod to the veteran Warrior-Priest and a small smile of greeting to the other visible volunteers.

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A short slender figure lies huddled in the corner, away from the main group of volunteers. The cloak the figure wears covers a good portion of its body, the only thing showing is the long strands of hair peeking out from underneath the raised hood. The body moves with an easy rhythm that is echoed in the loud snores that emanate from underneath the cloak. The snores get progressively louder as Halbarad continues his proclamation.

 

Taking exception to this insolent wretch, one of the figures situated near him gives him a sound kick to the ribs. Upon waking from the violent interruption of his wonderful dream, the young elf blinks up with half sleepy eyes at the large half-orc towering over him in a not so happy mood. Putting his hands up in front of him the young elf begins to back away from the half-orc wondering the whole time where he is and what is going on. In his rush to back away from the half-orc he backs right into several others, jostling his clothing and pushing back his cloak to reveal unkempt hair, a longbow on his back and two wicked looking rapiers at his sides. Muttering something in Elvish he backs right into a clearing where he catches the attention of the priest on the podium.

 

“Ahh, another brave volunteer.” Says Halbarad spotting the slim Elf.

 

The elf turns around and stares in wide disbelief at the huge figure towering over him, wondering if he has lost his eyesight and how he is to battle this Giant without it.

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Walking forward from the back where she was talking with a few other fighter, a young blonde haired woman steps forward. "I'll go. " Standing average height, with long blonde hair tied back into a long braid. A longsword hangs at her side, and she wears a mailshirt. She walks with an easy confidence as she moves to take her place amoung those gathered. "But which task are we taking, he," She nods towards the hawk nosed man, "seems to want to go to Reven. So do we go there or do we go to Port Gangrel?"

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“I say we go help the villagers at Reven”

 

The man sitting at the table finished the last bit of his jerky, made a good show of dusting his well-traveled clothes trying to bring as much attention to him as possible and with all the time in the world, he slowly stood up.

 

“Everything else can wait,” He finished and stared up and down at the new volunteer, the lady with blond hair then finally locking eyes with her.

 

“My name is Kaba, Kaba of the Four Winds.” He took off his wide brimmed hat revealing his shaved head which proclaimed him to be a monk. On his forehead was the tattoo of a willow tree, symbol of the Four Winds monastery.

 

“I will go.... if only to serve you my lady.” he said and lowered his head.

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Halbarad slaps his open palm on the dias. Everyone becomes silent.

"Alright, good people, it is good to see the fires of Justice burning so brightly....

Roman, I know there is no stopping you from pursuing the Reven. Take Kaba, Licia, Findecano, and...excuse me..what's the name of the Orcish gentleman threatening you?...Just Plain Joe.....alright, take Just Plain Joe with you. And a couple of Ivy Crown Archers. Settle the problem at hand, and spend a couple of days bolstering the village defenses, and training the indiginous locals in arms and archery....."

 

Halbarad looks at Rai, the young blonde mage. "I suppose you were just waiting for an invitation to go further your education in Port Gangrel....Take Bootknife Ben to protcet you from the locals, and George to protect you from Bootknife Ben. ..Ben, your usual fees will be met by the Order. See that Rai returns safe and sound......"

 

"Aeolene, take Corwight,Erik, and four Ivy Crown archer to the cemetary....Re-intere those who have been disturb, reconsecrate the grounds, and bring back the head of the Necromancer responsible..."He leans heavily on the podium. "By All that is Holy, I hate Necromancers....."

 

"Are there any more questions.......If not, leave within the hour. And may the Angels protect your endevours!"

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"Gentlemen, my Lady Licia, my Lord Halbarad." Kaba said respecfully. "I shall go fetch my gears and rations. I will then meet you all in front of the gate in a hour"

 

"If anyone needs me, I'll be with the quartermaster." He added as he left.

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Blinking quickly to try and restore his vision, Fin wonders how the Giant knew his name. He looks around quickly wondering what a Reven is and what kind of heinous torture he is in for. As Roman, Kaba and Licia move over to him, he blinks at the rather large warrior. Now that the others are closer they get a much better look at the slim elf. Short he barely reaches the chest of the large warrior; blonde hair and crystal blue eyes (half closed even now) stare back at the small group. His long blonde hair is a mess and looks like it's been a while since it's been washed. His skin is deeply tanned and shows the rough texture of one who is outdoors often. He moves like a man waking from a deep sleep, clumsy and unsure. Keeping Roman between himself and the half-orc, he looks directly into the chest of the warrior and speaks.

 

"Dude, what's a Reven?” He asks. While the others take in his strange manner of speech, he continues to stare directly at the ornate breastplate of the warrior. "Dude, you need to lighten up, you're too stiff man." He says poking the breastplate of the warrior obviously mistaking it for the face of the large man.

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Ben turns to address Rai.

"Well, my lady, it appears to be you and I...oh and the big oaf. When should I be prepared to leave on this excursion?"

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